Donovan Mitchell # 45 of Utah Jazz high fives Mike Conley # 10 against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter at American Airlines Arena on February 26, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves / Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves / Getty Images)
The Phoenix Suns could sit atop the Western Conference after Friday night, and it will be a little easier for them to pull off against a shorthanded Utah Jazz team.
The Jazz will be deprived of its rear starting area. Shooter Donovan Mitchell has not played since April 16 due to a sprained right ankle while point guard Mike Conley will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
In the teams’ second meeting earlier this month, Mitchell scored a high of 41 points. Conley struggled, shooting 5 of 16 from the field. The Suns won the game 117-113 in overtime.
Without those two players Wednesday in Sacramento, the Jazz crushed the Kings 154-105. Utah has hit 24 three-pointers, with eight players in double digits. In place of Mitchell and Conley in the lineup were guard Joe Ingles and forward Georges Niang.
Swingman Royce O’Neale is questionable (right wrist pain) after playing 23 minutes in this game.
As for the Suns, there was good news on their injury report, with backup center Dario Saric outscored in probable. Saric has missed the last three games to manage his left ankle. Jae Crowder (sprained right ankle) is questionable again after holding that tag for Wednesday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers in which he did not play.
The Suns come into play Friday with a 44-18 record, one game behind Utah’s 45-17 mark. A Phoenix win would have both teams with the same win-loss, and the Suns would own the tiebreaker.